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March 9, 2018

Video of ICE agents toting semi-automatic weapons went viral

LOS ANGELES — The ACLU Foundation of Southern California and the Law Offices of Stacy Tolchin won the dismissal of deportation proceedings against Juan Hernandez, a car mechanic unlawfully arrested during a raid by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents on a South Los Angeles repair shop. 

During the Sept. 25 raid, caught on security camera videos that later went viral, Hernandez was handcuffed, detained and arrested without a warrant and absent reasonable suspicion or probable cause. As stated in the ACLU and Tolchin motion to terminate proceedings, ICE agents knew nothing about Hernandez before placing him under arrest "other than that he appeared to work at the garage and looked Latino."

In the wake of the motion, immigration officials agreed to drop deportation proceedings against Hernandez. Yesterday, that action was approved by Judge Christine E. Stancill in immigration court in Los Angeles.

"We are glad the government realized it was in the wrong, but it never should have sought to deport Mr. Hernandez in the first place," said Eva Bitran, a staff attorney with the ACLU SoCal. "How many other unconstitutional arrests have led to deportations, simply because ICE's lawlessness wasn't caught on camera?"

Video of the raid gave a rare view of ICE tactics. Wearing tactical gear falsely identifying themselves as "POLICE," the agents stormed the car shop with semi-automatic weapons drawn. They ordered everyone in the shop, including Hernandez, to freeze and put up their hands. 

Hernandez was asked no questions — not even for his name — before he was handcuffed. An agent finally asked him to identify himself, but before he could answer the agent found the wallet in his pocket and took out the California driver's license.

Hernandez didn't even know that the men who arrested him were from ICE until he and the other mechanics were put in a black SUV and taken to an immigration processing center in downtown Los Angeles. He was eventually transferred to the Adelanto Detention Facility where he was detained for nearly five weeks until he paid a $5,000 bond.

That's more than a month that Hernandez, who is the sole provider for his wife and young daughter, was without a salary.

The Hernandez motion pointed out that the his arrest "violated governing regulations, statutes and the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution" that guards all in this country against unreasonable searches and seizures. 

Learn more about Hernandez's story here:

Read the court filing here:

See raw footage of the raid: